Posted by: patenttranslator | November 1, 2016

Letter Explaining the Reasons Why I and Five Other Committee and Chapter Members Resigned from IAPTI (International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters)

Dear colleagues,

This is to inform you of our resignation from the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI).

We,
– Maria Karra (president of IAPTI’s Ethics Committee and founding member),
– Attila Piróth (vice-president of the Ethics Committee),
– Catherine V. Howard (University Liaison Committee member),
– Shai Navé (head of Israel Chapter),
– Valerij Tomarenko and Steve Vitek (both of the Professional Practices Committee),
wish to dissociate ourselves from IAPTI for the reasons outlined below:

Over the past year, we have become increasingly concerned about a growing list of problems stemming from the lack of checks and balances within IAPTI, which include the lack of democratic participation, transparency, external oversight, and measures to prevent conflicts of interest. As a result, there is a dissonance between the association’s outward image and its inner workings. Its pledge to empower individual translators and interpreters worldwide is at odds with its own hierarchical internal structure that disempowers members. IAPTI is run according to an executive model, not a democratic one, which allows few opportunities for participation and decision-making by members.

According to its own mission statement, IAPTI strives to be “a venue in which to establish a dialog, without censorship and without conflicts of interest, with the aim of promoting effective professional ethics.” Nonetheless, we have been stymied in our efforts to pursue constructive dialogs for meaningful change; our attempts to communicate problems to the general membership have been censored; and conflicts of interest continue to pervade the Board. All this is no longer aligned with our ideas about ethical business practices.

IAPTI’s outward calls for transparency in other entities are not consistent with its own internal practices. For example, the Board has failed to provide members with the range of financial statements required in the bylaws. For seven years since its founding, IAPTI’s registration has still not been approved by the Argentine justice or tax authorities, hence it has been operating without government oversight, but members are not aware of the ramifications of this lack of approval. Without financial transparency, members are left in the dark and ill-prepared for tax-related issues concerning business expenses, such as their membership fee. In our opinion, IAPTI’s lack of legal authorization is no excuse for failing to honor its obligations for transparency and accountability to its members.

In IAPTI’s current status, its own bylaws are not applied in full. It is unclear which bylaws, if any, in IAPTI’s website are applicable or valid, in the absence of any proviso or explanation. Members are unaware of any changes made in the bylaws, whereas such changes are supposed to be approved by members in a general assembly, according to the bylaws themselves. Without knowing the legal framework in which the association operates, members are deprived of information about the modus operandi of the association to which they belong. This excludes them from the emancipating experience of actively participating in the formation of IAPTI’s internal and external policies.

IAPTI’s international aspirations and practices contrast with the local composition of the Board. All of the main officers (president, vice president, secretary general, and treasurer) are from Argentina and have held these positions ever since the association was founded in 2009. Although other Board members have changed over the years, they have likewise all been from Argentina, with a single exception. Furthermore, no elections have been held for any of these positions, even though the bylaws require they be held every four years. The Board thereby fails to reflect or to take advantage of the association’s main strength: its rich diversity with members in over eighty countries.

We have reluctantly reached the conclusion that our attempts to promote checks and balances and greater transparency in IAPTI are futile. During the past months, several colleagues—including Diana Coada, Lisa Simpson, Lucille R. Kaplan, Vivian Stevenson, and Jayne Fox—told us they resigned from their staff positions in IAPTI over similar or other equally pressing concerns. We feel we exhausted all possibilities at our disposal to further the mission for which we joined this association. We believe IAPTI can fulfill its objectives only with fundamental structural changes within the association—changes that the Board has consistently resisted.

Therefore, we hereby resign from our positions within IAPTI and no longer wish to remain members of the association.

Attila Piróth
Maria Karra
Shai Navé
Valerij Tomarenko
Catherine V. Howard
Steve Vitek


Responses

  1. As if to confirm what we said in this letter of resignation about IAPTI censorship, a post of the same letter by a co-signatory, Valerij Tomarenko, was deleted today from the IAPTI LinkedIn forum. He did not give permission for this deletion.

    Another co-signatory, Attila Piróth, has posted a statement in the same forum about this censorship: see tinyurl.com/jj65jov

    As a co-signatory myself, I have reposted the letter in LinkedIn: see tinyurl.com/hog534m

    Let us see if it will be allowed to stand or whether it too will be censored.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Censorship is usually the last resort of those with something to hide.

    Catherine, since members are not being allowed access to the full range of this information and for those who might not even be in the LinkedIn group (I never was) perhaps you may need to post the statement here.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sure thing, Lisa. Here is the text of Attila Piróth’s post in the LinkedIn group:

    Letter of resignation from IAPTI censored

    Earlier today Valerij Tomarenko’s post about the resignation of six staff members was removed by an administrator without Valerij’s approval. We want to know who removed it.

    The signatories of the letter were all removed from this group – with the exception of Maria Karra, who is the group owner and therefore cannot be technically removed. We want to know who removed us *without any explanation*. In our resignation we declared that we did not wish to remain members of IAPTI. This group is not reserved for paying members of IAPTI and we did not mention whether we wish to leave this group or not.

    We understand that our resignation letter is inconvenient but censorship is not a solution. Our letter will be reposted in this forum later today. Valerij and Steve Vitek also posted it in their blogs.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s interesting that a group which, as far as I know, left Proz to form an association because they were outraged at Proz’s heavy-handed moderation should now be trying to close down any criticism or discussions about their apparently cavalier attitude towards registration, keeping and publishing financial statements (including all expenses), being answerable to members and running a democratic and transparent association. Pot kettle black. I can only hope that members realise what is behind these attempts to silence any critics and start asking their own questions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Everyone keeps referring to IAPTI as an association.
      However, the current lack of legal personality, tax number, legal liability (such as the applicability of the by-laws, sharing the financial records), and a democratic process that should give members the opportunity to have a say about the direction the body that claims to represent them takes suggest that it is allegedly nothing more than a glorified collection of social media groups and a website.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. As the board is now consulting a “lawyer” to issue a response (rather than replying in a simple and straightforward manner), we can expect the usual word salad, similar to what ATA sent in response to a member’s letter regarding the MT about 2 years ago. I must admit I am rather shocked. Although I’ve never thought about joining IAPTI, as a member of the IAPTI group on LinkedIn I formed an impression it is highly ethical organization that takes a clear stand on various issues in defense of translators’ interest. I am so very sorry to see all this.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m afraid I don’t know anything about this ATA episode.
    I must have missed it.

    Could you explain it, Anna?

    Like

  7. Some time ago, perhaps 1.5-2 years back, there was a discussion in the LinkedIn ATA group regarding MT being more or less promoted by ATA for the sake of its company-members (I think it all originated with some out of context remarks quoted in the press). Our Czech colleague Tomáš Mossler sent an open letter to the ATA Board asking them to clarify their position on that matter. In response he got such an incredible corporate-speak lawyerly gibberish, signed by the then-president of ATA, that really should be incorporated in the secret textbooks of meaningless phraseology. If I had ever believed that any organization is there to protect or represent my interests, I would have lost that belief at that point🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you very much, Anna.

    I can imagine what the ATA response was like. I lost faith in that organization many years ago.

    It works for the “translation industry”, not for translators.

    Like

  9. I wonder how ATA would respond now to such a comment.

    Like


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